Customs chief: Problem real but not rampant

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Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon.. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon on Tuesday acknowledged as “real” the problem of oil smuggling in the country but he disputed an INQUIRER report which quoted him as having said that it had become rampant during the first two-and-half years of the Aquino administration.

“It’s a real problem, but I wouldn’t say there’s enough physical evidence to say it’s rampant other than claims based on computations of various data from various sources,” Biazon said.

In a text message to the INQUIRER, he said the Bureau of Customs (BOC) was “embarking on measures to address the problem of oil smuggling.”

“One is the implementation of the policy to collect taxes on petroleum imports whether they’re bound for economic zones or not. Those which are qualified for exemptions will have to apply for a refund,” he said.

Biazon said “this will eliminate a loophole that some smugglers take advantage of.”

“We are also considering a proposal to allow petroleum importations only through specified ports nationwide, and we are setting up an information gathering system for data coming from the ports in order to clearly analyze the movement of petroleum products,” he said.

Large ports watched

Because of the smuggling, the government is heightening the monitoring of economic zones and large ports in Limay (Bataan), Batangas City, Manila International Container Port and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), Malacañang said.

These entry points for imported crude and refined oil have been under scrutiny by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bureau of Customs, President Aquino’s spokesperson, Edwin Lacierda, said.

At a briefing in Malacañang, Lacierda said these agencies “have aggressively stepped up the campaign to curb oil smuggling and to make sure that we bring smugglers to justice.”

“Proactively, we’ve identified some smugglers and, in fact, we’ve already filed a certain number of cases. The DOF will be issuing (shortly) the number of cases that we have filed against the smugglers,” he said.

Nine cases filed

Since July 2010, the BOC has filed in the Department of Justice nine cases against alleged oil smugglers through its Run After The Smugglers (RATS) campaign. These cases were related to dutiable values totaling P38 billion.

In a statement, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said the DOF and its attached agencies, including the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs, recently visited seven major district ports to gather data.

Among the ports visited within the six weeks until mid-March were major destinations of inbound petroleum cargo like the Port of Limay in Bataan.

Purisima said a second wave of visits would begin this month and would cover the Manila International Container Port, Port of Manila, Port of Naia and Port of Batangas.

 

Port accreditation

The DOF will also soon implement a system of port accreditation for commodities at high risk of smuggling such as oil and steel, he said.

Accredited ports will be required to submit to the DOF monthly reports that will be cross-checked with data from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Philippine Ports Authority, based on volume and vessel, the finance chief said.

“The port accreditation system will prevent ‘port shopping’ and hinder unethical importers from literally evading tax collection,” Purisima said.

Rolling import plans

He added that all importers of sensitive commodities would also be asked to submit yearly rolling import plans indicating quantity, type, source and location of intended port arrival.

The BIR has issued Revenue Regulation No. 2-2012, which would have changed tax administration on petroleum products to require upfront payment of tax and duties on imported oil.

RR 2-2012 allows tax-exempt parties to file for refunds, such as if the oil cargo was intended for use within special economic zones and thus qualifies for tax exemptions.

According to the DOF, implementation of RR 2-2012 was delayed for nearly a year because the Regional Trial Court in Pampanga issued a temporary restraining order upon the petition of Rep. Carmelo Lazatin (1st district).

Subsequently, the Pampanga RTC’s Branch No. 58 issued in April 2012 a writ of preliminary injunction against the implementation of the BIR regulation. The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s order last February.

 

Fuel testing

According to the DOF, the BOC has been instructed to implement RR 2-2012 and to hold inbound oil cargos until payment of VAT and excise tax.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla told reporters that his department planned to use newly acquired equipment to test the quality of fuel products, which may partly identify whether these have been smuggled into the country.

“We will go around with the machines we have bought to test the quality of fuels…. We may start the inspection of gasoline after elections to avoid political [linkages] to these efforts,” Petilla said.

The energy chief, however, noted that the Department of Energy (DOE) had no police powers to arrest suspected smugglers.

He said he could not validate the claims of Ramon S. Ang, chair of Petron Corp., who said anew that smuggled oil products “now account for at least a third of the total volume sold in the market.”

Petilla said it did not follow that the volume of smuggled oil was steadily increasing just because Petron’s own sales did not match the increase in fuel consumption.

This, he said, could be due to a growing number of independent players following the deregulation of the downstream oil industry.

“But I do understand Mr. Ang’s concern that the government is losing to smuggling and we have to arrest that,” Petilla said.

 

Ang slammed

A party-list group, meanwhile, slammed Ang for claiming that smuggled oil products accounted for at least a third of the total volume sold in the market.

“Obviously, Ang is pointing to oil smuggling as the so-called cause of government losses to cover up their enormous profiteering spree over the self-imposed and unrestrained oil price hikes dictated by the Big 3,” Anakpawis party-list chair Randall Echanis said when asked for comment.

Echanis noted the temerity of Ang to accuse the other oil importers, mostly the small fry in the downstream oil industry, of smuggling when Petron, Pilipinas Shell and Caltex (now Chevron) have refused to open up its books for public scrutiny.

Echanis noted that Ang complained only after the bottom line or profit margins went down. With a report from Ronnel W. Domingo

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  • superpilipinas

    Biazon is not competent for BoC.

    • gmaisthebestpresident

      competence is not a requirement to be appointed to juicy government position. you just need to be a partymate or back-up by those officials close to Pnoy.

      • Ronnie Santos

        is that daang matuwid?

  • randyaltarejos

    That’s a good idea, Mr. Commissioner! Carry on!

  • patawad

    Hello-lo-lo-lo!!!!! Ano na po nangyari duon sa daan daang container vans na nawala nuon, matagal ng panahon pero sa panahon ng matuwid na daan ng haring mongol?

  • farmerpo

    Yikes! is computed P30 billion revenue loss not rampant,? Either the big companies need to go to school again or BOC is using smuggled Chinese calculators and computers to estimate what is rampant and not.

  • XY ZEE

    In denial pa ang hitad.

  • regie

    ifi were in your position sir, out of propriety i will resign….

  • Lord_patawad

    kung bakit kasi “custom commissioner” pa ang tawag eh, puro komisyon tuloy ang lakad kahit sino maupo. pede kayang Custom Director na lang. or Custom Chief Servant? LOL

  • koolkid_inthehouse

    He has no balls. He’s simply a cry baby with big mouth. If BOC caught a small time smuggler, his picture is all over the front page. When a custom officer was nabbed by NBI he was mad because he was not tipped about the operation. What happen sir to those imported luxury cars from Enrile’s territory?
    Resign if you can’t stop smuggling. Your motto is ‘If you can’t beat the smugglers, join them’.

  • Stuubs

    If you can’t beat them, then just join them !

  • Isko

    “Customs chief: Problem real but not rampant.” P30B lost annually in government revenue…not rampant! What a line of thinking!

    • dodong1

      syempre sasabihin nya yun dahil malaki rin ang kickback nya imagine miski 1 percent lang ng 30B milliones na rin yan…

  • Lolo_Basyong

    Maski anong sistema ang ilagay, kung corrupt ang nakapwesto sa port of entry, walang mangyayari. Dapat siguro i-computerize na lahat yan, like what they did in auto assembly plants where robots have replaced people. At para maiwasan ang pag-doktor ng papeles, get the documentation from the source of the imports. Pag nakipagkutsabahan sila sa smugglers, lagot sila di lang sa atin kundi sa gobyerno ng bansa kung saan sila nakabase.

  • KappaPhiPhi

    raffy, the gov’t is anchoring on a straight path mantra. yung a thousand percent increase in smuggling makes erap and gma look like saints.

  • JasonBieber

    Are they trying to trick us with words? The problem is there but it’s ok?

    No it’s not ok. Don’t give excuses and try and fool the public into thinking that the oil smuggling and other smuggling is just a simple regular problem. It’s more than that…it’s a rampant problem that needs to be resolved.

  • tra6Gpeche

    Bureau of Customs has been the most corrupt and anomalous bureau in the Philippines since time immemorial. I really thought that Commissioner Biazon would show miracles to cleanse the bureau. My mistake! I forgot that he is also a Filipino who lacks the political will, the determination, the courage and the commitment to be exceptional. But I give him the credit for admitting that there is a real problem of oil smuggling in the Philippines. I suppose we can congratulate him for being, at least, honest but inept!

  • disqusted0fu

    Smuggling has been a problem ever since so it’s definitely real. But it has become a lot worse in this administration, so you can’t say that it is not rampant. Several companies have been losing business and many Filipinos have been losing their jobs because of the RAMPANT smuggling. That’s a fact. But all that Biazon will do is deny?

  • sked482

    Among business people that I know, talk is that the smuggling is being marketed through the smaller players like Jetti. That is the reason their oil is cheaper compared with the big 3. During the time of GMA, two of the big 3 hired a private investigator to look into the smuggling activities of the smaller player. When they found out who was behind the smuggling and who were involved, they backed off. These are all gossip of course. Hehehe.

  • Pedro_Gil

    nag-bubulagbulagan ang taong ito. walang experience ito pero nalagay sa pwesto, ang alam dito ay med tech ito at walang management experience. pag anak ka ng politiko, pwede kang ilagay sa pwesto. ang dapat niyang gawin ay ipa-audit ang lahat ng departamento ng BOC sa third party. and resulta ibigay sa dept of justice at sa mga mamamayan gamit ang pahayagan upang malaman kung sinosino and mga nag nananakaw sa sambayanan. kung sino ang mahuli, parusahan ng walang awa. kung pwede lang gamitin ang parusa ng mga bansang muslim ok sana. mabuhay ka bayang hinirang titino rin ang mga nagpapakasama.
    Kay Pnoy, ang kailangang tuluyan ng bansa ay hindi ang daang matuwid kundi ang tamang daan dahil ang matuwid na daan ninyo ay papunta sa kasamaan. Patawarin kayo sa dinudulot ninyong pangaapi at kahirapan sa mga kabababayan. pinagdarasal namin na tigilan na ang pansarili at magsilbi sa tao. Patawarin kayong lahat ng maykapal.

  • Pedro_Gil

    nag-bubulagbulagan ang taong ito. walang experience ito pero nalagay sa pwesto, ang alam dito ay med tech ito at walang management experience. pag anak ka ng politiko, pwede kang ilagay sa pwesto. ang dapat niyang gawin ay ipa-audit ang lahat ng departamento ng BOC sa third party. and resulta ibigay sa dept of justice at sa mga mamamayan gamit ang pahayagan upang malaman kung sinosino and mga nag nananakaw sa sambayanan. kung sino ang mahuli, parusahan ng walang awa. kung pwede lang gamitin ang parusa ng mga bansang muslim ok sana. mabuhay ka bayang hinirang titino rin ang mga nagpapakasama.
    Kay Pnoy, ang kailangang tuluyan ng bansa ay hindi ang daang matuwid kundi ang tamang daan dahil ang matuwid na daan ninyo ay papunta sa kasamaan. Patawarin kayo sa dinudulot ninyong pangaapi at kahirapan sa mga kabababayan. pinagdarasal namin na tigilan na ang pansarili at magsilbi sa tao. Patawarin kayong lahat ng maykapal.

  • barako22

    Customs chief: Problem real but not rampant
    biazon should resign now

  • Guest

    Biazon claimed that oil smuggling is real but not rampant. Siya na lang ata ang di nakakaalam na talamak ang oil smuggling. Hellowwww!

  • manufacturer2

    Palpak naman yang commissioner na iyan.
    Yung Mclaren na “hinuli” nila a week ago,
    hindi naman smuggler yung nagpasok.
    Ngayon, natuturete sila dahil kakasuhan sila
    nung may ari nung kotse.

  • BatangSingapore

    the problem is you chief! hahahhahahaha

  • Guest

    Failure na sa tax collections, failure pa to go after oil smugglers and other smuggling syndicates. Anong silbi ni Biazon

    • 100345roselia

      Anong silvi ni Biazon at si Abnoy.

  • 100345roselia

    Pag smuggler ka at allied ka kay GMA, “Daan Matuwid” ang ipapatupad. Kung smuggler ka at allied ka kay Abnoy, you are entitled to “Daan Baluktot”

  • Guest

    Biazon admitted naman he’s having tough time going after these smuggl-ing syndicate. Kaya ang ginawa niya, tinanggap na na lang sila. Hehehe!

  • Guest

    Biazon cannot simply run after these oil smugglers because these are financiers of LP senatorial candidates. Aminin?

  • LabkoPinas

    While it is true that Petron’s Ang’s statement is questionable the fact remains that P30 Billion pesos of government revenues was lost. So what are we doing? Are we suppose to say “a problem but not rampant”? This is the least of what we can say with such a figure. Prove it wrong then, Mr. Biazon!

  • Guest

    ARMM funds goes straight to Hataman’s pocket. Of course, his boss Mar has a lion share of it. Balato naman po!

  • zeroko

    No way, either your are clean or you are involve. There is no half way. Ruffy was my idol, I consider him Mr. Clean, but now, out you go “padre.” No more excuse. Just cut clean, leave!

  • vaporub123

    malaking halaga o maliit, ito ay smuggling pa rin. lahat nagsisimula sa maliit at kung makakalusot ay palaki ng palaki. ibig sabihin mr. biazon, bago lalaki ang problema dapat gawaan na ng paraan ng hindi lumala.

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